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Cover Exploring Parliament

22. Women in the House of Commons  

Rosie Campbell, Sarah Childs, and Elizabeth Hunt

This chapter examines the progress of women's participation and representation in the House of Commons. It first considers women's descriptive representation in the House of Commons over the last century, with emphasis on the differences in the proportion of women Members of Parliament (MPs) elected by the main political parties. It explains improvements in the numbers of women MPs in the last decade or so, together with the party asymmetry, by reference to the supply and demand model of political recruitment. It then reviews arguments for women's equal participation in politics, taking into account how women's descriptive representation intersects with symbolic and substantive representation. It also discusses resistance to the claim that women's representation matters and concludes with an analysis of the masculinized nature of the political institution that women MPs inhabit, along with the recommendations made in the 2016 The Good Parliament report.